With PlayStation Vita launching in Japan tomorrow, we want to tell you more about Gravity Rush, one of the Vita games developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan. Keiichiro Toyama, best known for his work on Silent Hill and SCE’s Siren series, is developing the Vita title and has been conceptualizing it for ten years.
Where did you get the idea to create a game where gravity bending is the central mechanic?
Keiichiro Toyama, Director: I like a French graphic artist called Moebius. In one of his graphic novels, there are images of people floating in space and I was inspired by that.
Can you tell us about the mysterious cat that follows Kat around?
Kat meets the black cat in the beginning of the game. When you play the game you will unravel the mystery of what the cat is. The key point is the black cat is very close to Moebius [one of the comic collections] or its similar.
When you designed the levels, did you make them open-ended where you can find other routes depending on how you played with gravity or were stages designed with one path?
I designed the stages so they are completely open.
How did you design levels with different routes? In Gravity Rush players can what ground is so it must have been challenging.
One of the major challenges was the complexity of collision. Typically, with other games there is a ground wall. In this game the ground can be a wall and the wall can also be ground. We had to make sure all of the walls had the collision functions that the ground would have. We were very careful as a team to make sure this felt right.
When I was playing the game, it seems like shifting the ground is the core of Gravity Rush. So, why did you add combat to the game?
Even battles have an element of gravity in it. Gravitational acceleration alters the striking power of an attack. I paid attention to the balance of the game, so it would have mystery, puzzle aspects, and action with battles. I didn’t want it to just be a complex puzzle solving game. I wanted to have some entertainment aspects to Gravity Rush, so it feels good when people play it.
Gravity Rush is different from your other games like Siren and Silent Hill. Are you ever going to go back to horror game development?
Yes! When I’m working on something I get the opposite ideas in my mind. Gravity Rush came to me when I was making horror games for ten years.
Wow, you had the idea for this game for ten years…
Actually, more than that. The first game that I wanted to make was Gravity Rush.
Why did it take so long to greenlight this game?
When I started making games it was when Resident Evil became a big hit. They [Konami] asked me if I wanted to do a horror game because of that. So, I created Silent Hill and that was very popular. After that I was labeled as the horror game guy. Finally, the opportunity to show people I can make something different came up and I got to make Gravity Rush.
How has the concept evolved over the last ten years?
Initially, I only had fuzzy ideas, a conceptual idea of people in space. Linking that to a gameplay mechanic, gravity and the idea of using it, took time to put together.
Was the protagonist always the same? Did you consider anyone else, maybe the cat?
The thing about gravity is that you can’t have total control over it. When you play the game you’re going to make mistakes in whatever you’re trying to do. The character had to be someone that looks cute even if you fail, so I settled on a female lead.
Another idea in the game is about growth and development. The protagonist, Kat, can’t control gravity as well as you may want to. She develops throughout the game in terms of gameplay and also the story. People in the city start to accept her.
What do you want to do for your next game?
That’s a difficult question. I don’t have a concrete idea right now. Horror games reach players through fear, which is part of human nature. Gravity Rush is about falling and that is also something people can instinctively understand.
In my next game, I also want to carry that on and create a game that players can react to on an emotionally and instinctually.
What emotion are you most interested in?